Fianna F?il on course to pay off ?500k in debt
Tuesday, December 27, 2011
FIANNA Fail is due to pay ?500,000 off its debt by year?s end, party leader Miche?l Martin has said.
As recently reported by the Irish Examiner, the party is ?2.2 million in debt. But a significant slice of the money will be repaid by the end of this month, Mr Martin has confirmed.
"We?re due to pay back half a million by the end of Christmas on the debt," he said in an interview with this newspaper. Asked if the party would manage to make the repayment, he replied: "Yes."
It is understood the bulk of the money will come from the party?s annual superdraw, which took place on December 21.
The draw ? with a first prize of a Nissan Juke ? is thought to have raised over ?500,000, much of which will go towards debt repayment. Mr Martin said he had been "very open" about party finances with members, in contrast with years past, when the issue had been treated like the "Third Secret of Fatima".
The party had to move beyond accepting corporate donations, as they had had a "corrosive" effect on Fianna F?il?s reputation.
Mr Martin said the party would instead prioritise a small number of large-scale fundraising events, such as the superdraw.
"Every [other] party has been raising funds through corporate donations and still does. We haven?t been since the election. It damaged Fianna F?il in the past ? fundraising damaged us. It gave us a bad name, had a corrosive impact on the image of the party. So we have to change behaviour."
He also said he would not prejudge the Mahon Tribunal report, which is expected to be published in January and arrive at conclusions about former taoiseach Bertie Ahern?s personal finances.
While Mr Martin would not speculate about the likely contents of the report, he said the party would "respond up-front in a robust way, and take on board the conclusions and recommendations of Mahon".
Political rivals in Leinster House believe Mr Martin will seek to distance Fianna F?il from Mr Ahern when the report is published.
Mr Martin described Mr Ahern as a "colleague in government" rather than a personal friend.
"In politics, we all tend to do our job, go to the cabinet meeting, but you don?t have lasting friendships of a social kind as we would probably understand the word friendship," he said.
"Bertie kept himself aloof a lot as a leader, he had a particular style, and particularly his last six years were very presidential... After the 2002 election, I think there was a change in style. From 1997 to 2002 it was much more collegial; 2002 onwards, it became more presidential, almost Blair-like, Clinton-like."
He said he found Mr Ahern "very accessible" and could always "have a chat with him", but "Bertie wasn?t a guy you were going to have a pint with or pour out your troubles to. It was business, it was politics."